By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Four Freedoms Park in Madison honors a rich historical time period and marks many different successes in not only Madison history, but also the history of the United States. The land that the Four Freedoms Park currently is located on, was once the blockhouse built to protect women, children and the elderly during the Second Seminole War. This war raged up and down the Florida peninsula from Tallahassee to Lake Okeechobee and all areas between. The land that the park now uses was also used as the informal courthouse until 1840.
In 1840, the land was donated to the City of Madison to be built into a park. The Four Freedoms Park is named after the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address. These freedoms are the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. There is a marker in the southwest corner of the park that honors these Four Freedoms as well.
In 1946, a monument was erected in the Four Freedoms Park in honor of the First Baptist Convention. The Florida Baptist Convention was founded on November 20, 1854. This historical moment occurred in the parlor of Richard John Mays, which was located near Madison. The monument in Four Freedoms Park was erected in honor of the creation of the Florida Baptist Convention.
There is also a monument honoring the former slaves of Madison County. In 1860, there were 4,249 slaves in Madison County. Madison was part of what was known as Florida’s “black belt,” which consisted of Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson and Madison Counties. These counties were the home of the vast majority of slaves. The monument that is seen in Four Freedoms Park was erected in 1996 to honor the “Former Slaves of Madison County.”
There is an open Bible on the west side of the park that was placed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. This Bible is enclosed in a marble and class case. The WCTU was organized in 1874 and is the oldest continuing non-sectarian women’s organization in the world. The group was designed to “fight the influence of alcohol on families and society.”
In the center of the park, there is a tribute to “Our Confederate Soldiers,” placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This group is dedicated to honoring the memory of the servicemen who served the Confederate States of America. There are butterfly gardens surrounding the monument as well as the fountain in the park that were placed by the Madison Garden Club. There is also a large gazebo located in the park. There are large signs on the gazebo that say each of the four freedoms.
Looking Back: Four Freedoms Park
By Kristin Finney